open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- The destruction of the Black Lagoon's dock and headquarters can be seen from the water during the Greenback Jane arc, while the boat is hauling engine to get there on time. They don't, but, it is rebuilt. It's one of the few times Dutch drops the Mother F Bomb.
- Pejite in Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind.
- Robin from One Piece, as the only survivor from Ohara, sailed away watching the island burn up in an inferno.
- The fate of Trafalgar Law's birthplace: "The White City" Flevance, a northern country that fell victim to an outbreak of lead poisoning. Neighboring kingdoms believed the sickness to be contagious and burnt Flevance to the ground following a mass genocide. Law, like Robin, was the only survivor.
- In the Wham Episode of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, this happens to the Section Six HQ.
- The fortress of Alania in Record of Lodoss War, with the heroes escaping to witness its destruction by the Black Knight, Ashram.
- The titular character of Naruto returns to his beloved village... to find it has been crushed into a rubble-filled crater with hundreds, if not thousands, dead. While the deaths were reversed, this made the actual objective of Akatsuki painfully clear.
- Code Geass begins with the nation of Japan being attacked and occupied by Britannian forces as Lelouch and Suzaku, who are residing there, helplessly watch.
- Attack on Titan starts with Shingashina falling to the Titans after a hundred years. As Armin, Eren, and Mikasa sail away on a boat they hear the cries of fear and see the smoke rising from several places. Bonus points for Shingashina actually being surrounded by walls thought to be impregnable.
- Issue 700 of Action Comics has Perry White watch helplessly as Metropolis is destroyed by missiles meant to destroy the city in case of an alien invasion. They were launched because of a lackey of Lex Luthor's refused to believe his boss would willingly surrender to Superman.
- Issue 175 of Sonic the Hedgehog had Eggman invade and raze Knothole to the ground. Sonic made it back after being attacked by Snively with enough time to watch Castle Acorn be obliterated.
- When the Sentry brought Asgard to the ground in Siege, this was the universal reaction.
- The first volume of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has the Foot, led by a resurrected Shredder, attack the Turtles while they're living with April in her fathers old junk shop, with the store being burned to the ground in the process, leading to the Turtles, April and Casey Jones going into exile in Massachusetts for a year, before kicking off the "Return To New York" storyarc. This storyline has been adapted in different ways, most notably in the 1990 movie and the 2003 cartoon.
- Home Tree in Avatar.
- The first Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers movie had Ivan Ooze smash their base and leave Zordon dying.
- The bull dragon attacking the keep in Reign of Fire applies here, especially as Christian Bale's character has to watch from the outside at first.
- Star Trek:
- Star Wars:
- In Revenge of the Sith, Padme watching the Jedi Temple burn.
- A New Hope: Princess Leia is forced to watch as the Death Star annihilates her planet, Alderaan. The kicker is she had a front row seat because she was on the Death Star!
- And the "burning homestead" scene, when Luke finds his home destroyed and his foster parents murdered.
- Rogue One: The Rogues can't do a thing other than watch when Tarkin uses the Death Star to nuke the Holy City as a test. Later, The last survivors are caught in the blast when the Death Star is used again at their location. Andor and Jyn just hug, knowing death's coming.
- The film Troy has a pretty heart wracking shot with Priam watching◊ as the Greeks pillage his city. Functions as a big Kick the Dog moment for Agamemnon and the Greeks as a whole.
- Haven in Serenity. This one comes as a double blow due to Shepherd Book being killed along with the settlers in the attack, but not before taking the enemy's ship with him (not that he's proud of it).
- A villainous example: Cutler Beckett as his ship is torn to splinters.
- In The Matrix Reloaded, Morpheus's ship the Nebuchadnezzar explodes after the Sentinels destroy it.
"I have dreamed a dream. But now that dream is gone from me." - Morpheus
- In the film version of The Two Towers Arethen and Freda stop a moment to watch their village be burned by wildmen before they flee to Edoras.
- The entire Dark Knight Saga can be summed up as Bruce's struggle to prevent this from happening to Gotham and his numerous failings along the way.
- Ra's Al Ghul burns down Wayne Manor in Batman Begins while trying to destroy the city.
- Gotham's citizens being driven into a frenzy in The Dark Knight feels this way emotionally to the characters as well. Summed up by Alfred in reference to the Joker: "Some men just want to watch the world burn."
- Gotham City getting overrun by Bane in The Dark Knight Rises merges the two. An Invoked Trope by Bane who believes Bruce's punishment for interferring must be much more severe so he sets up a TV in his prison cell so he can watch it happening in real time. Not to mention all 'the fire rises' motifs he uses throughout the movie.
"When Gotham is ashes, then you have my permission to die."
- This one backfires, as it gives Bruce the motivation to escape and stop Bane. Which is exactly what he does.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past: In The Rogue Cut, the older Professor X is crestfallen as he observes from the X-Jet his home being consumed by flames.
- Watching the Iso cities burn and the portal back to his own world flicker out is what pushes Flynn well past Despair Event Horizon in TRON: Legacy.
- Mickey's mom's trailer in Snatch..
- Unlike the book, Smaug's reason for destroying Laketown in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is because he wants Bilbo and Thorin to watch Laketown burn.
- In A Brother's Price, there is a scene where two of the princesses stand in front of a building that explodes ... with many of their family members in it.
- In the Deptford Histories book The Oaken Throne, the squirrel princess Ysabelle (chosen to be the next Starwife) is forced to flee her home, Coll Regalis, with guards to protect her. The bat army is to attack at nightfall. Her parents and many inhabitants of the realm have stayed behind as a diversion and it is certain that they will be killed. When the battle begins, Ysabelle and her entourage pause and sadly watch the destruction of their home in the distance behind them.
- In Dragon Bones, there is an unusual example, where the place was evacuated, the only ones in there were the villains, and the sadness, at least for Ward, the protagonist, comes from the fact that he himself made his own castle collapse by killing the Genius Loci, Oreg, who was his friend. Oreg didn't fear death, and had planned for the whole thing, but Ward still had a breakdown after doing what had to be done. For other characters, though, it is watching the only place they ever called home collapse to a heap of rocks.
- Book II of Virgil's Aeneid depicts the fall of Troy from Aeneas's point of view, replete with descriptions of fire and the destruction. Trope namer.
- In book two of the Nightrunner series, Seregil's real home at the Cockerel is destroyed and everyone inside mutilated. He burns the remains himself.
- In the final story arc of Animorphs, Jake, Marco and Tobias watch as Bug fighters burn their hometown to nothing to make a dead zone around their mothership's landing site.
- In "The Scouring of the Shire" in The Lord of the Rings, the hobbits return to their home to find Saruman has taken control and done his best to ruin it (However, it's not utterly destroyed and Sam's gift from Galadriel repairs a lot of the damage afterwards).
- In the After the End novel Bone Dance, the protagonist, Sparrow, has lovingly assembled a large collection of pre-war music and video. Halfway through the book, the Big Bad sets Sparrow's entire building ablaze, out of sheer cruelty. Sparrow has to be physically restrained from running inside.
- In the second book of A Song of Ice and Fire, Theon watches Winterfell go up in flames, and Bran surveys the destruction afterward.
- In Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar universe, upon returning to their homeland after the Cataclysm, the Kaled'a'in find a glass-floored crater where it had been, and look down from the cliff walls into it.
- Warrior Cats:
- In The New Prophecy, all the Clans go through this when the humans destroy their forest and they have to watch, knowing there's nothing they can do about it. One of the more impressive of these scenes comes at the end of Midnight when Firestar watches as a bulldozer uproots Fourtrees, the ancient oak trees that the Clans thought would stand forever.
- The SkyClan saga prequel novella Cloudstar's Journey shows this happening to SkyClan while their home is developed to make way for a suburb. Cloudstar is helpless as trees around him are torn down, and it's pretty heartbreaking.
- Happens in the Warrior's Refuge and Warrior's Return comic book spinoffs when Graystripe triumphantly returns to the forest, only to find it completely destroyed. He wanders around the destruction for a little while before Millie convinces him that his Clanmates are still out their somewhere.
- In Victoria, the forces of the reactionary Confederation systematically burn and destroy the capital of Azania's Lady Land as they invade it, in order to convince the Amazons that their female society has failed, and that they must now submit to the proper natural order proved stronger by trial of war.
Live Action TV
- In Smallville, Vessel. Clark Kent and Chloe Sullivan watches as Metropolis burns in the chaos brought by Brainiac's virus that heralds the arrival of Zod. Leads to a massively heartwarming moment as Chloe convinces Clark to leave her and the city to confront Zod, Clark complies but not before they share a powerful Now or Never Kiss.
- In Kandor, Zod and Jor-El watches as Kandor explodes in the distance.
- A lot of the miniseries for Battlestar Galactica and the mirror version The Plan showed the devastation of the Cylon attack, and the emotional devastation it wrought.
- The iconic photo of the soldier, fallen to his knees, in front of the burning skyline of the capitol city on Aerilon jumps to mind as a perfect example.
- Doctor Who, "The Fires of Pompeii".
- Another curious example. Although not a strict example of this trope, as it is not observed by any of the characters, anyone who is familiar with the brief views of Gallifrey in the classic series, the short flashback in The Sound of the Drums or at the very least comprehends the awe of the place from the descriptions given by the Doctor in the TV Movie and the New Series, will feel this trope when they see the brief view of Gallifrey during the Time War in The End of Time, with the smashed Citadel, wreckages of Dalek ships and fires.
- The Day of the Doctor features a painting of Gallifrey's main/only city in flames on the last day of the Time War. Being a Time Lord painting it's in full 3D of course. The title has some ambiguity, indicated as "No More"/"Gallifrey Falls", nobody is sure whether its named in reference to the War Doctor's decision to end the war with a Mutual Kill or this trope respectively. The end of the episode reveals the Doctors' efforts in the episode succeeded, and the title is actually "Gallifrey Falls No More"
- Detective Kathy Mallory has her childhood home (which is described as being the only place she has any emotional attachment to) with all her deceased parents' belongings burned to the ground in Killing Critics.
- Power Rangers Turbo ends with Divatox's force invading, destroying and completely leveling the Command Center with the rangers still inside. They manage to survive but just barely.
- That was the second and far more dramatic time that happened. At the end of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, they were forced to watch the Command Center (which was about to be called the Power Chamber) get destroyed... only for it to get rebuilt by Zordon's power or the Zeo crystal or something. It's never really explained how it came back together the first time.
- In Supernatural's pilot episode, John Winchester watches his home burn with his wife inside while holding his two young sons.
- Angel. In the Cliffhanger ending to "Apocalypse Nowish", heroes and villains alike look on with fear as The Beast rains fire on Los Angeles.
- Final Fantasy:
- Final Fantasy II's PlayStation remake opens with the four protagonists, Firion, Maria, Guy, and Leon, fleeing from their burning hometown after the Emperor's forces have set torch to it. The cinema ends with them watching the conflagration from a nearby hilltop.
- Final Fantasy VII: Poor Cloud and Tifa go through this particular trauma several times throughout the course of the game. They see their hometown of Nibelheim burn to the ground once in person and then several times more thanks to Sephiroth's Mind Rapes and uncanny tendency to replay the scene whenever taunting Cloud.
- Final Fantasy IX has several of these where summons are used as weapons of mass destruction. You are generally treated to the complete destruction, or in the very least decimation, of every single town or settlement, and in one case an entire planet, that you visit. Dagger's first hometown, the Village of the Summoners gets Death from Above from Garland before the game starts. Freya's hometown of Burmecia is a charred ruin by the time you arrive, Cleyra and its population get hit with Odin, whose attack sequence plays out like an atom bomb. Lindblum is treated to a dual attack by Brahne's black mages and the summoned Atmos. In a serious Player Punch, Alexandria is ravaged by Bahamut, becomes a battleground between it and Alexander, before being carpet-bombed by Garland- leaving poor Dagger mute. Finally, Terra is treated to multiple Ultimas via Kuja.
- Inverted in Final Fantasy X, where the game starts off with Tidus beholding the ruins of his hometown, Zanarkand, before the 30-40 hour long flashback that is the game up to that point.
- Played straight with Rikku and the Al Bhed watching the destruction of Home.
- Final Fantasy Tactics: Fort Zeakden isn't Ramza's hometown, but what happens there is still enough to change not only his outlook on life but the fate of Ivalice as a whole, and the first chapter ends on a freeze frame of it going up in flames.
- Happens in Golden Sun: The Lost Age.
- Happens thrice in Suikoden V. The first occurs after the coup, a major Player Punch accompanied by a real sense of loss even if it's sort of a Foregone Conclusion. The second is Lelcar being set ablaze, driving home just how far the enemy is willing to go since it's one of their own cities they're torching. The third is the attack on Beaver Lodge, which pushes the enemy from any argument of Well-Intentioned Extremist to monsters openly planning genocide to "purify Falena." In all cases, the target is the hometown of several of the Stars of Destiny, and attention is always given to their reaction.
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2: Washington, D.C.
- The ending of Vietcong.
- The beginning of Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger, when Luke Skywalker and Gimli view the wreckage of the TCS Concordia.
- Once could say that Halo: Reach, is really just about this. Reach is doomed and mostly depopulated, but you stay in the burning ruins to the very end.
- Played especially straight at the opening cutscene of the "Exodus" level, when Noble Six crests a hill, only to see the "crown jewel" city of New Alexandria being razed and glassed by the Covenant. Includes a drawn-out camera reveal over the hill and a brief pause as Six surveys the damage, poignantly holding Jorge's dogtags.
- Mass Effect has several; namely the Citadel at the end of the first game, the Normandy SR1 at the beginning of the second, and Earth itself, Palaven, the turian homeworld - at one point Garrus identifies the biggest area that's on fire as his birthplace and Thessia, the asari homeworld in Mass Effect 3.
- The Monastery near the beginning of Jade Empire also serves as an example.
- Alluded to in Knights of the Old Republic as the heroes flee the bombing of Taris. Carth and Mission particularly take it hard.
- Homeworld: Kharak in Mission 3. The burning planet serves as a backdrop as your forces rush to save the last 600,000 civilian survivors.
- Done in both FreeSpace and the Silent Threat expansion. In the original, you have to try to fend of high-speed fighters in a bomber before an invincible superdestroyer finishes of the GTD Galatea, your homebase for the first half of the campaign. In the expansion, you can't keep the GTI insurgency from destroying the GTD Krios, your homebase for the first part of the campaign. The emotional impact is helped by the fact that the main menu is the interior of the ship you are based on, so when they are destroyed and you have to relocate to another destroyer, the graphic changes.
- In Dead Island, several locations that you travel to where survivors are gathered up get attacked and overtaken by zombies after certain quests are completed.
- The burning of Croft Manor in Tomb Raider: Underworld.
- The beginning of the A Dance with Rogues module. The Princess witnesses the destruction and slaughter that's taking place in her castle as she flees from the invading Dhorn. Later on, when she becomes a rogue and part of the Family criminal guild, the Dhorn again storm into their headquarters and kill almost everyone, with the Princess being unable to stop them.
- In Hyrule: Total War, this happens to Princess Zelda I when she witnesses the razing of Hyrule Castle at the hands of Ganon.
- At the beginning of Bravely Default, Tiz watches his hometown of Norende collapse into a chasm. As if that weren't bad enough, his brother also falls to his death right in front of him.
- At the end of Ninja Gaiden (2003)'s tutorial chapter, Ryu witnesses his home village being attacked and burned by Doku and his minions.
- In Life Is Strange, if you choose to save Chloe at the end, the two of you hold hands while watching Arcadia Bay getting destroyed by the tornado.
- In the prologue of Fallout 4, the Sole Survivor watches the Commonwealth get nuked as they and their spouse and son descend into Vault 111 to take part in its Human Popsicle experiment.
- In Impure Blood, Mac seeing the town go was off-stage, but after her mad rush to warn, it starts to sink in.
- In Nip and Tuck, the Show Within a Show Rebel Cry features the destruction of a place that helped our hero and the kid stowaway, and it hits them hard.
- Gunnerkrigg Court has the nearly literal and spoiler-tastic example of Jones the immortal not-a-robot-or-golem watching Rome burn.
- At the beginning of An American Tail, the village of Shostka, Russia suffers a pogrom at the hands of Russian Cossacks, and their pet cats. They set fire to most of the buildings, and after the Mousekewitz family survives the attack, they watch from a distance as their village goes up in flames. Thus, they decide to go to America, where there are no cats. Or so they think...
- In the season 3 finale of ReBoot we see Mainframe crash. Basically the entire city falls apart and everything but the Principal Office falls into the energy sea. The final shot is Dot and Bob staring at each other while everything fades to black. Fortunately The User intervenes and fixes everything.
- In Samurai Jack, an episode has the Emperor, Jack's father, unintentionally restoring Aku to his full power. The demon binds him to trees and forces him to watch him lay waste upon his beloved kingdom.
- This happens in Mulan, directly cutting off a cheery song to show us the burnt ruins of a village and an entire army.
- This can be heard in the soundtrack - where the final note just fades with a kind of horrified confusion.
- Subverted in Avatar: The Last Airbender: At the end of the second season, our heroes take one last look at Ba Sing Se (now under enemy control). But the fallen capital doesn't look any different, because the takeover was entirely political.
- In the Sequel, The Legend of Korra, it goes the other way with Amon and the Equalists decimating the Pro-bending stadium and blowing up the ring. Unlike Ba Sing Se, everything is a wreck.
- Near the end of season 3 Ba Sing Se falls into this trope hard. The Queen is assassinated and the city fall into chaos as rioters and looters overwhelm the place. The last we see the whole city is in flames.
- All Dogs Go to Heaven has the two main characters looking from afar as the nightclub they set up goes up in flames.
- In The Dark Crystal, Jen watches as Aughra's lab is destroyed by the Garthim and Aughra is taken prisoner.
- In The LEGO Movie, while escaping in submarine, Unikitty watches the remnants of Cloud Cuckoo Land sink beneath the waves and forces herself not to give in to negative emotions.
- The Season 2 opening of Star Wars Rebels gives us two: Ezra looking on his former house burning, and then seeing the remains of Tarkintown. The latter is a direct homage to the "burning homestead" scene in A New Hope.
- The first part of the season 1 finale of Codename: Kids Next Door ends with the Delightful Children Down the Lane destroying the KND's treehouse HQ as an afterthought of achieving their main goal of turning Numbuh 1 into an adult. The next episode opens with the main characters reduced to using a cardboard box as a base. The treehouse is rebuilt during the credits of the season finale.
- In the final arc of Gravity Falls Bill Cipher and his henchmaniacs escapes into the real world and unleashes Weirdmaggeddon on the town, capturing its terrified citizens and turning them to stone and reducing the town to a fiery wasteland over several days